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The Arizona Cardinals coaching search had an odd air of secrecy. Many had them picking another offensive coach to replace Bruce Arians. They didn’t appear all that interested in the hot coordinators in Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia. It seemed as though they were going after Eagles quarterback coach John DeFillipo and couldn’t announce it until after the Super Bowl. That doesn’t appear to be the case as they’ve selected Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. This is an out-of-left-field hire but one that has the potential to be a great one. Wilks brings an intense attitude and that should gel with the Cardinals talented defense.

Wilks served one year as the Panthers defensive coordinator but even when he was their secondary coach, he was also their assistant head coach. It was clear he had the admiration of Panthers coach Ron Rivera which to quote Andy Samberg as Nic Cage “that’s high praise.” The Cardinals defense is full of talent especially in the secondary. Patrick Peterson is one of the premiere corners in the league. They also have Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker at safety. Their front seven is a mix of young talent like Haason Reddick and veterans like Karlos Dansby. Wilks should be able to get a lot from this defense.

The offense on the other hand is due for a complete overhaul. Quarterback Carson Palmer retired and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald very well could do the same. Running back David Johnson is coming off a major wrist injury. Wilks needs to figure out who will be running his offense. The Cardinals have the 15th overall pick and could take whichever quarterback tumbles. They could also draft a skill player if they’re able to find a quality quarterback in free agency.

The Cardinals aren’t a complete tear down so it shouldn’t take Wilks long to get everything up and running. Once they figure out their offensive staff, it’ll be clearer which direction they’re going. The NFC West is a lot tougher than it has been in years. The Rams currently have the division but face cap questions. The Seahawks are trying to reshape their team and the Niners are coming up. Steve Wilks is the kind of hire that could play out better than the other teams that signed more high-profile coaches. He could be the next Mike Tomlin or Ron Rivera but hopefully with better clock management. This is an excellent hire for the Cardinals.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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